My grammar book says that both present perfect and present perfect continuous, when used with "for, since, etc", express a situation that began in the past and continues to the present. When used without 'since' or 'for', present perfect expresses the action that has happened before now and the progressive without any specific mention of time expresses a general activity in progress recently.

So neither of them implies that an action is still in progress when time is not mentioned, but I noticed that sometimes even when specific time is mentioned both can refer to an activity that is not in progress anymore and that has finished. Eg., I have been wearing this dress/I have worn this dress the whole summer. (The summer is over, the action is over too) What do you think about it? I can give another example; I have been living in France (Maybe the person has just relocated and says that he has been living in France recently) and I have been living in France my whole life/for five years/for ages(Again the person has relocated to another location and says where he/she used to live recently. I have lived in France my whole life/for five years/for ages. Similar statements as the two above: he/she doesn't live there anymore, but was recently living there. Sometimes native speakers tell me that nothing is impossible :).

What do you think about these statements? I have been driving my car. The specific time is not mentioned, however the progressive form implies that the action is still in progress. I have been confused by this sentence too as well as by the sentences below. I have been driving my car for ages/for five years. I know that this normally means I am still driving it, but I have been told (not by experts) that it can also imply that the action has finished recently or even if not recently it is not in progress anymore. The following sentence has the same meaning as the previous one; I have driven my car for ages/for five years. And They have been married for twenty years/for ages, maybe they are still married, maybe have recently divorced.

Are these comments right? Thanks

  • She asked pretty much the same question here too.. – Roaring Fish May 18 '12 at 5:33
  • Do something?:) :) Thanks for your advice, but I can't even contact technical support, because it says; 'The default mail client is not properly installed.' – Monica May 18 '12 at 9:28
  • Monica... you don't need to send an email, and this is beginning to sound like excuses. Go here meta.english.stackexchange.com/search?q=how+to+accept+an+answer and press the button that says 'support'... – Roaring Fish May 18 '12 at 10:06

Your examples are not quite the same as what your grammar book says.

The time expression that follows I have been living in France for... needs to be just a length of time - "un anchored" to a specific point in time. eg "five years", "two days", etc not "the whole summer" which, although it implied a length of 3 months, is anchored to a specific 3 months.

Also your example They have been married for twenty years/for ages means absolutely that they are still married. I can't think of a context where that wouldn't be the case. To use it in the context of a recent divorce would be incorrect - you would then use the past perfect continuous: They had been married for twenty years/for ages.

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